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Choosing the right coin cell

3-volt, lithium, constant-voltage coin cell. Diameter: 20 mm. Thickness: 3.2 mm. Capacity: 190 mAh. For hand-held measurement and recording instruments, test equipment, other devices.

3-volt, lithium, coin cell. Diameter: 20 mm. Thickness: 3.2 mm. Capacity: 225 mAh. For watches, calculators, PC motherboards, test equipment, handheld and other devices.

3-volt, lithium, coin cell. Diameter: 20 mm. Thickness: 2.5 mm. Capacity: 165 mAh. For watches, calculators, test equipment, handheld and other devices.

3-volt, lithium, coin cell. Diameter: 20 mm. Thickness: 1.6 mm. Capacity: 90 mAh. For calculators, test equipment, watches, other devices.

3-volt, lithium, coin cell. Diameter: 16 mm. Thickness: 3.2 mm. Capacity: 125 mAh. For calculators, watches, key fobs, other devices.

3-volt, lithium, coin cell. Diameter: 16 mm. Thickness: 2 mm. Capacity: 75 mAh. For calculators, watches, other devices.

3-volt, lithium, coin cell. Diameter: 16 mm. Thickness: 1.6 mm. Capacity: 55 mAh. For micro instruments, watches, other devices.

3-volt, lithium, coin cell. Diameter: 12 mm. Thickness: 1.6 mm. Capacity: 25 mAh. The uber-popular Timex watch battery. For watches, micro instruments, memory cartridges, other devices.

1.55-volt, Silver-oxide, button cell. Diameter: 11.6 mm. Thickness: 5.4 mm. Capacity: 190 mAh. For instruments, cameras, medical devices, etc.

1.55-volt, Silver-oxide, button cell. Diameter: 7.9 mm. Thickness: 3.6 mm. Capacity: 45 mAh. For calculators, watches, cameras, mini-flashlights, etc. Note: This item ships FREE, any quantity

1.55-volt, Silver-oxide, button cell. Diameter: 7.9 mm. Thickness: 2.1 mm. Capacity: 24 mAh. For watches, micro instruments, etc. Note: This item ships FREE, any quantity

1.5-volt nominal, lithium, penlite cell. Same dimensions as standard AA cell. Capacity: 2900 mAh. If you're tired of measuring your camera's battery life in seconds, then give these a shot, because they will last two to seven times longer, depending on the camera. Also for instruments, flashlights, insulin pumps and other medical devices, etc. Note: The quantity “unit” is 2 cells, so enter 1 if you want 2, 2 if you want 4, etc.

1.5-volt nominal, lithium, penlite cell. Just like the L91, but in everyone's favorite smaller size (same dimensions as standard AAA cell). Capacity: 1200 mAh. These are great for “spycams” (like the Sypix Cameleon), remotes, small bike lights, and little LED flashlights. Try them any place where you get tired of replacing AAA cells all the time. Note: The quantity “unit” is 2 cells, so enter 1 if you want 2, 2 if you want 4, etc.

Four, top-quality, standard-brand, 1.5-volt, alkaline AA cells, at a lower price than 3 Letters'. Of course, if you're looking for a low price, they'll sell you their Big Question Mark brand. If you're like us, you probably have bought BQMs on occasion (hoping to save a few bucks) but regretted it later. Regret no more! Buy the genuine article here and save! Note: The quantity "unit" is 4 cells, so enter 1 if you want 4, or 2 if you want 8. LIMIT: 2 packs per order

Four, top-quality, standard-brand, 1.5-volt, alkaline AAA cells, at a lower price than 3 Letters'. Same deal as above, but in everyone's favorite smaller size. For flashlights, bike lights, graphing calculators, micro-cameras, remotes, etc. Note: The quantity "unit" is 4 cells, so enter 1 if you want 4, or 2 if you want 8. LIMIT: 2 packs per order.



A note about shipping

Please note that primary lithium betteries, including the familiar coin cells used in watches, calculators, personal medical devices and other wearable or handheld equipment, are subject to freight restrictions. Because such batteries are not permitted on passenger aircraft in the United States (except when installed in equipment which uses them), the U.S. Postal Service has banned them from all but surface-transport mail categories. This is unfortunate, because First Class mail, an economical shipping method for small, lightweight items, cannot be used for primary lithium cells, although it is still satisfactory for shipping most non-lithium batteries. For the same reason, we cannot Priority-Mail or Express-Mail your coin cell order, nor can we ship it outside the Continental U.S. We particularly regret the effect of these restrictions on your total purchase cost, and because we pledge to continue our long-standing practice of offering you the best value for your dollar, you can count on us to find the most economical shipping options available.


Choosing the right coin cell

Here's a question we hear often: What is the difference between a CR2025 and a CR2032, or between a CR2016 and a CR2025, or between a CR2016 and a CR1620? Here's another one: How do I select the right coin cell for my application?

A battery with a part number consisting of BR or CR followed by four digits is a single primary lithium cell in a small, disk-shaped package. Its terminals are the metallic surfaces on either side. It is called a coin cell because it somewhat resembles a coin in size and shape, although its engravings are completely devoid of artistic merit and its date marking may seem highly improbable (say, that Calico Rock mint must have been really jumpin' in 2016). Also, it is rumored that coin cells tend to jam vending machines.

Actually, hardly anyone seems inclined to interpret the numbers as dates, which is just as well, because their correct interpretation is as follows:
    First two digits: Diameter in millimeters
    Last two digits: Thickness in tenths of a millimeter

Examples: a CR2032 is 20 mm (0.787 in.) in diameter and 3.2 mm (0.126 in.) thick, while a CR2016 is the same diameter (20 mm) but only half as thick, a mere 1.6 mm (0.063 in.). The CR1620, on the other hand, is 16 mm in diameter and 2.0 mm thick. Note that these numbers should be considered nominal dimensions, as there may be very slight variations between brands in the same part number. However, in our experience, these differences are not discernible without the aid of a micrometer or a precision caliper. Every cell that we ship for a given part number will fit any standard socket or holder designed for a cell with that part number.

In fact, if you want to get picky about it, equivalent products in the same brand may even be slightly different. We recently examined two spent CR1216 cells, both by Panasonic, but from different factories — one in Japan, the other in Indonesia. The trusty old Craftsman vernier micrometer yielded these interesting measurements, rounded to the nearest mil:

                  Panasonic CR1216 Japan: 0.492 x 0.063 in. (12.50 x 1.60 mm)
                  Panasonic CR1216 Indonesia: 0.491 x 0.062 in. (12.47 x 1.57 mm)

As we said, the dimensions should be considered nominal.

So what's the difference between a CR2032 and a BR2032?

Most primary lithium cells have a nominal terminal potential of 3 volts. However, like other types of non-rechargeable cells, their voltage isn't perfectly uniform over time and use. Because of somewhat different composition, the BR-type cells yield more uniform voltage over most of their useful life, but near end of life, their terminal voltage falls rapidly. Because of that, they are often called constant-voltage lithium cells. CR-type cells, on the other hand, exhibit a more gradual decline in voltage over most of the discharge period, and thus they may give somewhat longer service in circuits designed to tolerate a wider range of battery voltage, and they tolerate higher continuous load currents. In addition to typically having somewhat higher rated capacities, they also tend to cost less than their BR-type counterparts, which helps to explain their greater popularity.

Here's another variation: BR-type cells whose part numbers end with the letter A (e.g., BR2032A) are high-temperature lithium cells, and they are intended for applications which may encounter extreme temperatures. Their rated operating range is -40 C to 125 C. Of course, most batteries are adversely affected by high temperatures, but the A-series cells withstand heat better than most other types.

We don't always have BR-type cells in stock, but when we do have them, they will be mentioned somewhere on this site. If you're looking for them (or for anything else, for that matter), please use the box below to search for the type you need.

But what's the difference between a DL2032 and a CR2032?

This one falls into the unnecessary-confusion category. A DL2032 is merely a CR2032 branded by Duracell. Occasionally, we have Duracell DL2032s in stock, but we don't call them that, because most people know them as CR2032s. If you need to replace a DL2032, please just order the CR2032 instead. It's always in stock and ready to ship, and its quality is equal or higher.

What, exactly, is a CR2025-WR? How does it differ from a CR2025?

We're glad you asked. It is based on a CR2025, but it's more. It's encapsulated in an insulating wrapper, and it has a short cable and connector attached, for specific applications. Primarily, it is used as the “CMOS” battery in some notebook computers including IBM's ThinkPad 600 series. Note: This is not the rechargeable battery, the big battery that makes the computer useable when you can't plug it in. This is the little battery that keeps the real-time clock running even when the big battery is fully discharged or out of the computer. So, if your ThinkPad 6xx needs a clock battery, order the CR2025-WR. If you order the CR2025 instead, you'll have your work cut out for you.

Let's cut to the chase. What replaces what?

The short answer? Not much. Generally speaking, it is unwise to replace a coin cell with one of a different type number, unless the distinction is a meaningless one, as with a brand-specific prefix (like the DL2032/CR2032 confusion mentioned above). This advice goes double for wristwatches.

In particular, if the number portions differ, then the two cells differ in size, and there's a good chance the intended replacement won't fit. Yes, at a glance, the CR2016, CR2025 and CR2032 all appear similar, and they do all have the same diameter, but they differ in thickness. The CR2032 is fully twice as thick as the CR2016. Now and then you will encounter an electronic device (such as a PC motherboard) which uses a holder that can fit any 20-millimeter coin cell, regardless of thickness. In that situation, you can replace a CR2025 with a CR2032, probably yielding somewhat longer battery life. However, if you find a CR2032 already present (which is usually the case), it doesn't make much sense to replace it with something else, unless you have an emergency, and a CR2025 or CR2016 is the only thing available. The coin cell holders found in compact (i.e., wearable, handheld or pocket-size) products are usually less tolerant of thickness variations. Typically, they are designed for one particular size of cell, and that's it. A thicker one may overstress the contacts, possibly deforming or breaking them, and a thinner one may not make a reliable connection. Watches are usually the most restrictive; typically, they tolerate no variation at all.

If the diameters differ, a satisfactory replacement is even more unlikely. Will a CR2016 replace a CR1620? If you have viewed them side-by-side, you know the answer to that question.

But what if the difference is chemical — can I use a CR2032 in place of a BR2032 (or vice versa) in an emergency? Well, maybe. True, they are the same size, but bear in mind that the circuit intended for a BR2032 may not tolerate the CR2032's unregulated output voltage. The reverse scenario may not work, either, because the device designed for a CR2032 may draw too much current for the BR2032, and the battery life would probably be shorter, in any case.

Replacing a coin cell with the type recommended by the product's manufacturer is nearly always the best plan, and that usually means that you should install a cell just like the one you removed (except newer).

Don't see the one you need? Search our site: